Two unused town centre properties are set to be redeveloped as an accountants office and a home.
The former pharmacy at the corner of Beaufort Street and Davies Street in Brynmawr has been approved by Blaenau Gwent Council’s planning committee for a change of use to “financial and professional services”.
And the former solicitors office at 74, King Street, can also be changed from an office with an upstairs flat into a three-bedroom home.
Neither application conformed to current planning policy restricting use in the area to retail only, but officers advised that the schemes were acceptable.
Julian Frost applied to change the use at 44, Beaufort Street, from a shop unit, and planning officer Joanna White told the planning committee: “This is situated on the corner of Beaufort and Davies Streets in Brynmawr, and it falls within the primary retail area.
“The last known use of the property was as a pharmacy. Planning permission is being sought to change the use of the property at ground floor, and the proposed use is an accountants.
“There are no objections, but the proposal conflicts with policy which restricts use in the area to retail only.”
But she said the building had been vacant for several years, which was a material planning consideration.
“Planning Policy Wales specifies that, where economic decline is impacting on retail centres, the emphasis on retaining properties that have been vacant for some time may undermine the centre’s viability and vitality
“In such circumstances we should consider how non-A1 (retail) uses may play a greater role to increase diversity and vacancy levels.
“There’s a very low percentage of vacant properties in Brynmawr and therefore the loss of one is unlikely to have a significant impact on the town centre.”
The scheme to turn the former solicitors office at 74, King Street, into a home, submitted by Karen Akinci, would also bring “an iconic building” back into use, said Cllr John Hill.
“This is a welcome change to that property. It’s been an iconic building in a way, it’s been a solicitor’s office for a long time and will blend in with the setting,” he told fellow councillors.
Cllr Wayne Hodgins added: “It’s been a redundant building for a number of years and because it’s on one of the main arteries of the town, it’s certainly well overdue for improvements and I welcome the decision.”
Planning officer Sophie Godfrey said the building was officially situated in the Brynmawr Town Centre zone and policy for this area was that change of use of ground floor units to a residential home should not be permitted.
However, she recommended approval of the plan by pointing out it is on the periphery of the town centre, with King Street recognised as a predominantly residential street.
“The recently published retail and leisure study (August 2021) to form the evidence base for the replacement LDP (Local Development Plan) actually recommends that the Brynmawr town centre boundary is amended.
“This would move the property from inside the town centre boundary.”
Both applications were approved unanimously.